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When John wakes up in the ER--again--his first words are, "God damn it."

"You're God damn right God damn it," Rodney yells at him. "You--you--! I don't even have a word for you!"

John rolls onto his side in the now familiar hospital cot, tugging his pillow out from underneath his aching head and putting it over his aching face. There's embarrassing and then there's I Just Concussed Myself, Again embarrassing, and he just can't deal with the world today.

"No, wait, I do!" Rodney says with exaggerated affect. "Idiot!"

"Mr. McKay, I'm going to have to ask you to step outside," comes another voice, and John glances up from trying to smother himself. There's a glaring doctor holding open the privacy curtain now, a hard look on his young face.

"What?" Rodney squawks, taking a step closer to John's cot. "No!"

"What yes," the doctor argues. "You can wait in the waiting room--I just need to go over some routine questions with Mr. Sheppard."

"Whatever he says he can say in front of me," Rodney protests, and John thinks depressively that it's probably true--it's hard to get twitchy about privacy when you've been trapped in an alien cleansing ritual with a guy that involved what Rodney started referring to as 'sacred enemas.' That said, John really just wants out of here, so he puts the pillow back on his face and mumbles:

"Rodney, just let the man do his job, all right? I'll be out in a second."

He doesn't have to look to imagine the half-betrayed, half-furious expression on his face to go with the outraged noise. "Fine," Rodney huffs, but not without an under-the-breath addition of, "Moron."

John waits until he hears Rodney stalk out of the curtained-off area before he reluctantly puts down the pillow, smiling weakly at the doctor looming over him, concern creasing his face. "Sorry," John says feebly. "Rodney's just..."

"So I see," the man says angrily and sighs. He pulls up a chair and settles down next to John's hospital bed, laying a clipboard in his lap. And then he stares at John intensely.

"Colonel Sheppard," the doctor starts uncomfortably, "this is your third visit--in two months."

John winces. "Yeah--look, I can explain that."

The doctor frowns at him. "That's--" he flips open the clipboard and John's chart, frowning down at it "--one bloodied nose, one black eye and a split lip and now a mild concussion."

"I'm...sorry for cluttering up the ER?" John tries. He's starting to feel uncomfortably like he was 17 and getting the evil eye from the school nurse again.

The doctor sets the clipboard and files aside and leans forward, elbows on his knees, and says, voice quiet and sincere, "Colonel Sheppard--you're safe here. This is completely confidential. He's not in the room right now and I've made sure the nurses sent him back to the waiting area."

The doctor--his name tag says: DR. BEN HOLLOWAY--puts a hand on John's arm as he says, "Furthermore, Colonel, I have a very good relationship with the gay and lesbian community--I want you to feel free to be honest with me."

"I'm not gay," he says lamely, knowing how stupid it sounds. He's not exactly sure what's happening, but he doesn't like it.

Dr. Holloway arches a dark brow at him. "All right," he allows, and after a beat, says, "Colonel, sometimes arguments can escalate out of our control. The fight gets heated, we say things we regret--but it should never spiral into an unsafe situation."

John stares at him helplessly. "I--look, Doctor Holloway--"

Holloway smiles at him gently. "You can call me Ben."

John starts casing the exits nervously. "It's nothing. I just walked into a door."

This was mostly true. John would have walked into his door if he hadn't been late for work and Rodney hadn't been in the parking lot honking the car horn like a crazy person--which had led to him running for and then slamming into the door, which had slammed him back with extreme prejudice.

The look Holloway gives him is equal parts pity and frustration, and John gets a sinking feeling in his stomach when he reaches over to fold a pamphlet into John's hands. It's got a green triangle being shattered by lightning and somber lettering on the front reading: YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE ALONE.

"You should give it some consideration," Holloway says sincerely. "There are a lot of resources out there for you--this doesn't have to be your life."

"Right," John says brightly, swinging his legs off of the cot. "Thanks! I'll be checking out now.


Rodney meets him in the hallway outside, bouncing on his toes and looking worried, and wringing his hands.

"Well?" he demands, rushing up to John and grabbing him by the wrist to tug him closer. "What did that quack say? Are you sure you're okay to leave? You still look pale."

"I still have a meeting," John argues, trying not to meet Rodney's gaze and ignore Dr. Holloway's accusing stare, burning into the back of his head at the same time. The pamphlet, crumpled up and stuffed away, feels like a weight against in his pocket. "Let's just go before Landry gets any angrier."

"Oh please, I called in your excuses two hours ago," Rodney scoffs, grabbing John's chin to peer into his pupils, holding up a finger and moving it across John's field of vision. "Are you tracking?" Rodney asks seriously.

Scowling, John knocks his hands away, saying, "I'm fine. And I was fine when you dragged me here, too."

"You were not fine," Rodney hisses, and glancing left and right in the most conspicuous manner possible, he leans in even closer and says, "We've been back on Earth two months already--when are you going to relearn how to use doorknobs?"

"I wasn't thinking! It was an accident!" John argues feebly, feeling the gazes of the nearby nurses and seeing Dr. Holloway appear again, circling round to the desk to drop off John's chart and give him another beseeching stare: save yourself. "Let's just get out of here, all right?"

"You had a concussion!" Rodney snaps.

"Which I probably would have avoided if you hadn't been honking at me from the parking lot," John snaps back, but hesitates and glances over to Holloway, who is obviously pretending to write something in an effort to eavesdrop. The guy's about as smooth as Rodney, John thinks with a sigh, and runs a hand over his face tiredly. "Can we please leave? I'm tired and I want to get my prescription filled and forget this whole miserable day ever happened."

Rodney rolls his eyes, but he puts a hand on the small of John's back protectively and starts herding him out of the ER, still too conscientious, and says bitterly, "Fine, and when we're back here in less than a week, we'll do the whole thing over."

John hears Holloway's horrified gasp behind them. "God," he moans. "Let's just go."


Earth is hard for John in ways Atlantis never was. For all her fits of bad temper and crumbling infrastructure, the city wantsto help, wants them to explore, wants John. And so the lights come on when John walks into a room and dim down sweetly when he's falling asleep. Windows open and close on a whim and let sea breezes cool the city. And most of all, the doors open for him, all welcome, welcome, welcome.


The fourth time, it's an unscheduled off world activation alarm that echoes through the entire mountain and sets John's teeth on edge, and although he knows he's not the boss around here, it's instinct to make a rush for the door.

Which is how he ends up on his back, slightly dazed and in throbbing pain, saying, "God damn it," just as Rodney bursts into his office, the door catching him right in the ribs, yelling, "Don't move!"

One hour and one incredibly humiliating infirmary visit later, he's back in his office, sporting a wrist brace and holding an ice pack to his spectacularly bruised cheek, making an effort not to look at the magnets McKay has rigged on his office door to hold it open.

"John," Elizabeth says, mouth twitching.

"Don't say it," John mutters.

She taps a folder to her lips, eyes sparkling. "I wasn't going to say anything."

Glaring, John says, "Right."

"I was just coming to tell you we've rescheduled the meeting with General Landry for four thirty this afternoon," she says, too innocently, which is how John knows she's already seen the base-wide memo Rodney sent to the SGC at large, requesting that all personnel to try and leave as many doors open as possible.

"You know, this really isn't funny," he says bitterly, hunching over his desk, watching the water drip onto a stack of requisition forms. He doesn't know why the SGC assigned him an office for a three-month biannual review, but he's grateful for it, or at least grateful for a place to hide while they're trapped at the mountain.

Laughing, Elizabeth pats him gently on the arm. "It's only for another month, John, and then you'll be back to walking through doors instead of into them."

John scowls. "Hilarious," he says flatly.

She grins and heads out of his office.

The meeting's just as bad and pedantic as John predicts, with Rodney getting into a shouting match with the IOC about resource distribution and research goals, which scientists he's being saddled with for political reasons and how many he's allowed to drown off the south pier. John gets a number of pleading glances from various members of the hierarchy throughout the meeting, all of which he carefully ignores; he believes that whoever picks the fights with McKay should be forced to see them through to the end.

"Look," Rodney says finally, waving his hands in the air as if to clear away any other potential arguments, "the point I'm trying to make here is that we need to expedite this process if at all possible--three months away from Atlantis is too long for all the senior staff members to be gone."

"The situation in the Pegasus Galaxy has stabilized significantly since the containment of the Wraith threat," General Landry says. "I don't think it's too much to ask your participation in a comprehensive review once every two years."

"It is if it's removing all three members of the senior staff," Rodney growls. "And I don't know if you've noticed but if Colonel Sheppard spends any more time on Earth concussing himself--"

John drops his pen. "Hey!"

"--he's going to have permanent brain damage, which is hardly conducive to his being an effective military commander of Atlantis," Rodney continues blithely.

"Gentlemen," Elizabeth interrupts, mouth wavering, "focus."

John slumps against his seat, glaring down at his yellow legal pad, filled with notes like, KILL MCKAY and MAKE LORNE DO THIS and FAKE STOMACH FLU and FIND NEW NEARLY-INSURMOUNTABLE FOE IN PEGASUS.


The only thing more mortifying than having actually walked--run--into three doors is the fact that McKay is flagrantly violating the car agreement he and John reached once they'd been assigned temporary housing just a few doors away from one another.

"I can drive," John growls, slumping into the passenger's side seat with another icepack on his face. He pulls it off his numbing cheek and peers into the vanity mirror, hissing: the bruise is pretty gruesome-looking, already going green and purple.

"You now have two black eyes. Twenty-ten vision or not, you can barely see," Rodney points out, backing out of the SGC parking lot at about 65 miles per hour, proving once again that Rodney's skills with the puddlejumper are a reflection of his skills piloting Earth-based technologies as well.

John slams his feet into the floorboards of the car as Rodney merges onto the highway, screeching across three lanes.

"Yeah, and I'm going to have a heart-attack if I keep riding with you," he says, far too high-pitched for a man who's trained to fly in combat.

Rodney rolls his eyes and flaps one of his hands around, completely unaware or unconcerned about the fact that he's veering into and out of lanes like he's re-enacting a bad police chase scene. "Please, Colonel. You may be the indisputable king of the puddlejumpers on Atlantis--but anybody can drive."

It takes everything in John to resist putting his free hand over his uncovered eye, still rimmed pale purple and green from last week's run-in with his front door. "I'm not so sure of that, Rodney," he says shakily.

"Says the man who keeps running into doors," Rodney snaps, and turning to John with an expression of deep concern on his face, he asks, "Seriously--do you need me to stay with you? I know I laughed a lot the first time but I'm seriously getting worried now."

"Eyes on the road," John says urgently, turning Rodney's face back to the highway traffic. "Eyes on the road!"


The fifth time it happens, none of John's frantic assurances that he's fine are enough to keep Rodney from flashing his very craziest crazy eyes and dragging John to the ER. To be honest, he's too dazed to put up a very good fight, having decided to really put an effort into remembering the functional uses of doors and doorknobs and gotten a little overenthusiastic with it.

John usually shrugs off Rodney's complaints that he's mentally defective but he's actually becoming worried about the accumulated effects of all the shots to the head he's taken since he got back to Earth nine weeks ago. He's really starting to wish he lived nearer to the mountain and the SGC infirmary.

Especially when he opens his eyes, sees a familiar ceiling of pock-marked panels and says, just for posterity, "God damn it," italics evident in every word now.

"Colonel," says a familiar voice. "I can't say I'm glad to see you again."

Propping himself up on his elbows, John stares blearily once again at Dr. Ben Holloway, who looks like he's come armed with more pamphlets and sympathy.

"I know you don't believe me," John says, believing that the best defense is a good offense, "but I seriously just opened a door in my face."

"You have another split lip, a new bruise on your cheek, a fading black eye, your wrist has a little residual swelling and you're covered in bruises all over," Holloway says sadly. "What's it going to take for you to just walk away?"

John debates the relative merits of trying to explain that he's spent most of the last decade in a city he could control with hismind without such petty worries as 'opening doors' and 'turning on lights' and 'not tripping over shit in the dark when thinking on doesn't turn on the lights.' He's pretty sure Rodney would sense the breach of confidentiality from wherever he's been banished while John gets his social services counseling session and have a heart attack just on principle.

"Look," John says, trying to table the issue and sound his most honest at the same time. "As humiliating as it is for me to admit, I really did open a door into my own face. Just the same way I walked into a door. Just the same way I tripped over a chair in the dark and fell down. It's nothing sinister, it's just klutziness. As for the bruises--" he can still feel them in a line down his side, from particularly disagreeable rocks on M4X-391, consulting mission his ass "--they're a job hazard."

Holloway stares at him flatly.

"I can get you a note from my base doctor if you don't believe me!" John snaps.

Holloway just leans forward and stares at John imploringly. "Is he threatening you?"

John covers his face in defeat, lying back on the bed.

"Same-sex domestic abuse is unique in that partners start linking sex with guilt, start threatening to out their victims to families, friends, at work," Holloway continues seriously. "Colonel Sheppard--you're in a terrible position here, I know. And I understand your professional concerns, but this is escalating, he's escalating--this is your life we're talking about."

"Rodney isn't beating me," John insists, trying not to think about how his life got to this. "We're not even dating," he adds stupidly.

Holloway puts a gentle hand on John's shoulder, hovering over his hospital cot and saying, "Let me call a social worker--let me help you."

Which is exactly when Rodney, bursts through the privacy curtain surrounding John's bed, saying over his shoulder, "Yeah, you do that! Call security! I'll call the Air Force. Then we can compare who has better guns!" When he turns to glare at John, he's saying, "I swear to God the nurses here hate me--they had me in that stupid waiting room filling out frivolous paperwork for..."

John knows that trail-off. And before he can push Holloway's hand off of his shoulder or say something along the lines of "It's not what it looks like," Rodney is pointing one shaking finger at Holloway.

"I knew it!" Rodney snarls, red-faced with anger. "I knew it. Sexually harassing a patient! I'm calling the medical ethics board, Doctor. I'll have your stethoscope!"

Fighting the déjà vu, John's getting ready to swing his legs off of the cot to start shoving Rodney--and hopefully himself--out of the ER and minimize the damage when Holloway snaps, "And what about you, Mr. McKay? How about I call the police and show them all of Colonel Sheppard's bruises and then we'll talk who's in trouble!"

It actually seems to derail Rodney completely, and John watches in horrified fascination as Rodney's finger droops and righteous fury disappears in a puff of bafflement. He can actually see it when his synapses finish making the connections, the hot, furious blush that rises to Rodney's cheeks as he snaps:

"Oh for God's sake, I am not beating him!"

"He's really not," John tries again. "I really am walking into doors."

"Oh, shut up, Sheppard, you're not helping," Rodney snarls. Turning back to Holloway, Rodney grinds out, "This is ridiculous. He is actually walking into doors--and running into doors and tripping over furniture and a million other stupidly uncoordinated things. I'll admit to having wanted to slap some sense into him but I've never actually done it."

Then it's John's turn to say, "God, Rodney, you're not helping."

Holloway crosses his arms across his chest. Rodney juts out his chin. John can literally feel the testosterone in the room rising to dangerous levels.

"Right," John says evenly, taking the break in the shouting as an opportunity, and gets out of the bed, snatching up his newest prescription and grabbing Rodney by the arm. "Thanks again! We'll be checking out now."


Work is a wash.

Rodney spends most of the ride over to the mountain shouting about how could anybody be stupid enough to think that he's prone to acts of physical violence and how insulted he is by the very implication and as if John could ever be a battered spouse anyway. He spends the entire time they're going through the exhaustive security checks at the mountain raving about how of course, of course John got the one 17-year-old ex-Abercrombie model slash doctor in the ER and how it's obvious to Rodney that his ridiculous accusations have a lot more to do with wanting to marry John and have his babies than rescuing him from a life of emotional and physical battery. John makes the stupid mistake of saying, "What's Abercrombie?" somewhere between the mess and their offices, which sends Rodney spiraling off into another long and bitter diatribe about how his good name is tainted forever because of some twinkette with a crush and a degree in voodoo and if this prevents him from getting his Nobel prize John's going to learn the true meaning of assault and battery.

"Rodney, it's not like I said you did it--he drew his own erroneous conclusions," John says, rolling his eyes. He steps into one of the dozens of meeting rooms in the complex--all gray and concrete and wretched--feeling a pang for Atlantis strong enough to make his chest ache.

"You could have fought it harder," Rodney hisses, slamming down a stack of files.

"I did!" John snaps, throwing up his hands. "I told him he was being ridiculous and that it was all a big misunderstanding but he wasn't listening to me!" He spares a moment to glare at Rodney balefully before adding, "Look, you weren't the person getting the fake sympathetic stares and the pamphlets telling me I wasn't alone in my suffering, so if I can get over it, youcan get over it."

Rodney makes a hamstrung expression. "He thought I was hurting you," he says after a long time, awkward and unhappy.

It's the tone in Rodney's voice when he says it that makes John stop short, because he and Rodney have always been in it together--in one another's corners. Rodney looks away and John's about to reach over, to say to him something, anything, to get that miserable, injured look off his face--and then Cameron wanders into the room, does a double take, and whistles:

"Christ, Sheppard. You look like one of those battered women PSAs."

John has just enough time to cover his face and add "Cam's stupid fucking mouth" to his list of reasons he hates SG1 before the situation manages to deteriorate to an all-new low, a downward spiral of shouting and Rodney's red-faced fury that's only interrupted when Elizabeth steps in five minutes later, yelling, "What the hell is going on?"

"What's going on?" Rodney growls. "I'll tell you what's going on! Half the doctors in Colorado think that I'm beatingSheppard, that's what's going on!"

John figures it's just bad timing that Sam Carter walks in on that statement, but figures that the way she starts laughing so hard she misses her chair when she tries to sit down is probably fair payback.


But despite John's very real concerns that Rodney is going to kill John in frustration or that one day he'll drive John to homicide with his neurotically overprotective hovering, he knows Rodney mostly means well--even when he doesn't. He also knows that when Rodney's trying to be sweet, it usually manifests itself in slightly disturbing behavior. So later that week, he sighs and lets McKay into his apartment despite the fact he's holding a toolbox in one hand an orange Home Depot bag in the other.


Somewhere between Friday and Sunday morning, John realizes McKay's moved in with him. John doesn't know what freaks him out more: that he didn't notice or that he can't bring himself to care all that much. John consoles himself for letting it slip his notice by reminding himself that he lives in a city in another galaxy with the guy, that they share a hallway and mess and sometimes offices--when Rodney hates everybody in the lab so much he insinuates himself on John's couch instead--and that on Atlantis, Rodney never bothered to knock or ask if it was okay, either. Still, John's starting to feel a real sense of solidarity with all the girls McKay stalked in college.

John thinks there's something unusually unnerving about the seeing McKay shuffling around John's--albeit temporary--apartment in socks and pajamas and a raggedy gray robe, mainlining coffee and looking for a welding torch.

"I made coffee," McKay mumbles, waving the torch vaguely in the direction of an expensive-looking coffeemaker John notices has replaced his Mr. Coffee. "You're not allowed to drink it."

John stares at him. "I'm not allowed to drink it?"

"It's Kopi Luwak," Rodney says, eyes puffy with sleep. "You wouldn't appreciate it."

"Isn't that the coffee crapped out of a cat?" John demands.

"Palm civet," Rodney argues, flushing. "And the digestive process seasons the beans to perfection."

John throws up his arms. "How did you even get in? How did you even get my key?"

Rodney only makes a dismissive noise and pads off toward a stack of frosted glass panes propped up near John's breakfast table, slurping away at his mug.

Just to be an ass, John turns on the television and leaves it on the Outdoor Living Network during a bass fishing marathon and takes up a position in front of it, feet kicked up on the coffee table. He balances one of Rodney's physics journals--already defaced so he knows Rodney won't miss it--on his lap and goes to work completing the last of the requisition forms, estimating munitions needed and necessary additional manpower, writing clearly between the lines that Atlantis is ready for a larger civilian presence. It's not just a forgotten outpost anymore, and John wonders if this is what the first western settlers felt like roads and stores and towns started to appear.

John's finally disgusted even himself and started channel surfing when the high-pitched sound of metal shearing and hiss of sparks dies down. When Rodney slumps down next to him on the couch, tugging off heavy work gloves and protective goggles, he says, "Oh! Oh! Turn it to Food Network. I think they're running a marathon of old Japanese Iron Chef."

For lunch, they call in a double order of eggplant rollatini and a baker's dozen of garlic nuts from Anna-Maria's. When they're done gorging themselves, they leave the detritus scattered on the coffee table and disappear into their own pursuits, still slumped against one another on the couch--John back to his mountain of paperwork and Rodney with yet another physics journal John can't imagine deserves the vile imprecations McKay is writing in its margins.

And when John starts to nod off in the searing, mid-afternoon sun, it's to the badly-dubbed Iron Chef announcer and the feel of Rodney's shoulder against his cheek, Rodney's fingers stroking through his hair--Rodney's mouth soft against his temple.


John knows that one of the long-term effects of having lived in a closed society is that everybody knows everybody a little too well, so it's really his own fault he's surprised at all when he gets home to see a new frosted glass sliding door opening with a whisper, Rodney looking manic and gleeful on the other side.

He drops his key. "What--?" John starts.

"Please," Rodney interrupts. "Like I didn't notice that the grocery store and high-end department store bathrooms were the only places you seemed happy."

Sometime while John had been trapped in the underground hell of the SGC arguing for more guns and backing Elizabeth up on her demand for a coalition decision on Atlantis' governing military principles, Rodney had installed automatic sliding doors in place of all the old school knob and handle shenanigans in the apartment. The frosted glass panels from earlier now have white steel frames around them and they swish swish swish.

"Don't worry about the security issue," Rodney tells him gleefully, tugging John into the apartment, over the threshold. "That front door registers any approaching object and scans it for the subcutaneous transmitter Carson implanted in all Pegasus personnel years ago. The reaction time should be near-instantaneous."

All the lights in the apartment, like the doors, are now triggered by motion sensors, and John leaves and comes back in and leaves and comes back in over and over again, astonished and delighted. Rodney just sits on John's couch and watches him indulgently, a too-fond look in his eyes, hands wrapped around a mug of cat-crap coffee and appearing to be in perfect peace with the universe.


Technically, John's married to his entire team, former and current.

Teyla on P3X-691 in a ceremony that involved honey-sweet wine and a lot of drunken tomfoolery and giggling while McKay turned progressively darker shades of purple in a corner. Ford on P1X-780 and P1X-781, neighboring planets that shared traumatizing social mores that had Ford and John avoiding eye-contact for a week. Ronon on P4X-100, where they'd barely finished jumping through the flaming hoop--literally--when the gunfire had started. Rodney on going on sixteen separate planets--mostly as covers and sometimes as excuses, because nothing keeps nubile young virgins away better than convincing them your very angry and bitter husband will come and fuck their shit up.

On M3X-763, during John's six weeks trapped with the best and brightest of the SGC in the Milky Way galaxy, there'd been some horrible misunderstanding and he'd managed to marry his entire team in fell swoop. He didn't know who felt worse about it: him or his team or McKay, who'd called six minutes after John had gotten back to Earth and started snarling about how could John betray the four spouses he already had?

John's not really as oblivious as Rodney thinks he is--especially not when it comes to his city, his people, his team. It's a matter of selective attention.

He knows Teyla no longer feels like she belongs on the mainland with the Athosians, that even if she loathes to admit it, she thinks of herself as Atlantean these days. He knows that sometimes Ronon goes on scavenging missions to what's left of Sateda, to roam through her old libraries, her stores and buildings, bringing pieces of what's left of home to his people, to his room, where he's filled up a shelf with paperback mysteries printed in Sateda's spidery print. John knows that of all the marriages, the only one that's really taken is this weird thing with Rodney.

Whom everybody thinks is beating him.


And when John finally stops walking around his apartment listening to doors open for him and lights flick on as he steps into the bathroom, into the kitchen, into the bedroom, he drops down on the couch next to McKay, a manic grin on his face.

"Awesome," he tells Rodney, who only snorts in response, but looks flushed and pleased.

So John takes the opportunity to lean in, until he can catch McKay's eyes, and say softly into the scant space between them, "I know you'd never hurt me."

Rodney's eyes go wide, blue and huge and dark.

"I wouldn't," Rodney agrees after a long beat.

"I know," John answers, equally serious, and leans in to close his mouth over Rodney's.

Kissing Rodney is easy like Atlantis is easy--familiar and warming under his touch, rising into his palms. Rodney's the same way: pushy and eager, sweet, sweet like John never knew before he'd felt the chair waking at his touch that first time, sucked him into awareness like an undertow.

John had once thought when it happened--and it would, it was inevitable--he'd be desperate and clumsy and awkward with want. John thought Rodney would shove and shove and they'd end up jerking each other off messily against a wall, greedy. But Rodney's just murmuring into John's mouth, teeth and tongue and lips all indulgent, soft, slow--his thumb stroking over the skin behind John's ear over and over again.

And John's just getting used to slow when Rodney abruptly--just like in the lab, John spares a moment to think fondly--makes a mental U-turn decides he wants fast and hot and right fucking now, if John is translating all that pawing correctly.

When the two hands McKay's worked under his t-shirt start scrabbling pretty aggressively at his pants, John decides it's only the charitable thing to be helpful and starts helping McKay out of his clothes.

"Are you wearing my sweatpants?" John asks, when Rodney's mouth migrates to his collarbone, his hands shucking off John's BDU pants, tugging at John's shirt.

"They were on your bed," Rodney murmurs into the skin of John's jaw, pressing open-mouthed kisses wherever he can reach. John nearly laughs at the sheer luxury of it, of rolling their bodies together in the deepening twilight, television murmuring in the background. He wasn't lying, before, when he said he hadn't been with men, but Rodney's been teaching John things since Antarctica. John's trusted Rodney with his life and his house keys and he trusts Rodney with this, he trusts Rodney's hands--warm and calloused and huge along John's sides, curving around to grasp at his hips.

John's got both his hands up under Rodney's t-shirt when McKay makes a noise of pure frustration against John's throat and whines, hands seeking purchase on sweat-slick skin. There's too much terrycloth robe and gray t-shirt and John's boxer briefs between them, and all the grace goes out of them and John has just enough time to say "Wait--Rodney--!" before they tip off of the couch, elbows and knees narrowly missing one another--Rodney broad and searing-hot beneath John's palms.

"I swear to God, Sheppard," Rodney hisses at him, huffing, John's knee sliding against the inside of Rodney's thigh, "if that just managed to concuss you or otherwise break you, I will explode in sheer bitter fury."

John grins down at him, strokes a hand over Rodney's face. "You broke my fall."

"Which you'll hear about later," Rodney promises, but for the moment all he does is throw a leg over John's hip, reaches a hand down between them so he can help John shove their underwear out of the way. The first touch of John's dick against another one is utterly foreign and completely familiar--soft, soft skin and wiry hair--and when he gives an experimental thrust, cock slotting into the sweet, hot juncture of Rodney's thigh and groin, he and Rodney groan together.

John knows this is something different than even he expected, because he doesn't ask, "is this okay?" just grins, greedy like Rodney has taught him to be--for ZPMs, for the lush infinity of Pegasus, for math like poetry--and does it again, harder, feeling the tight, perfect slide against sweat-damp skin, feeling Rodney's cock, hot and smooth against his own.

With Rodney it's all feast or famine, and John listens to Rodney stringing along praise and profanity and begging, his fingers leaving bruises on John's hips and his mouth leaving wet, obscene kisses along John's chest, on his shoulder. Rodney says, "Yeah--yes, come on, just like that, come on," and John does, because Rodney might be a bitch about it but he usually is always right.

And the hazy, warm arousal is just changing into something burning white-hot in the center when John sees the sliding doors thudding open and closed, open and closed, frantic and chasing the roll and grind of their hips--their bodies as they rub against one another on the floor. The motion sensor is blinking frantically, lights flashing on and dimming and off and bright again, frantic, like the whole house is in on the fucking.

And he can't help it--he really can't--John bursts into laughter, clutches a handful of carpet and puts his face in Rodney's neck and comes and comes, listens to Rodney follow him with a choked-off moan.


The next two weeks aren't materially any different than any of the hundreds of other weeks John's spent with Rodney, although he's considerably more sore and rug-burned and Rodney swears he broke his tailbone.

They still go to work and have embarrassingly married arguments at the coffee pot in the meeting room, snipe at one another over overlapping requisitions. John still puts a protective hand on Rodney's elbow when they wind through the subterranean hallways, and Rodney still likes to guide John around base with the curled fingers of his right hand at the small of John's back, warm through the BDU shirt.

None of the important things change, and just like everything else with Rodney, it's easy to be back in Atlantis--finally--and to find Rodney's toothbrush suddenly in his bathroom, to make room in his drawers. The only place Rodney wasn't already with John was in bed, John reflects a little ruefully, digging through the shirt and pants pockets of a load of laundry.

He pulls a crumpled brochure out of a pair of jeans and frowns, smoothing it out across the top of one of the Ancient washing machines and feeling his eyes widen at the familiar print shouting, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

He's still laughing five minutes later when Rodney shows up with a load of whites, only sparing a second to give John a weird look before muttering, "Freak."

"I know," John says--to Rodney and to the brochure, he thinks. "I know."